After winning the First Division championship last season, newly-promoted Lija Athletic will be aiming at retaining their Premier League status for the first time in the history of the club. In fact, in previous occasions when Lija were promoted to the top division, they made a quick return to the First Division.
Addressing a press conference at the Eurosport outlet in Birkirkara, Lija Athletic president Paul Fenech said that after winning promotion to the Premier League for the first time as champions, the club will be doing its best to retain their status.
Fenech said that the club had promised all players who formed part of last year’s squad that they would be retained as long as they wished to stay. However the club still had to make a number of new signings in order to strengthen the squad for the Premier League campaign.
The Lija president said that with the increase of the number of teams in the Premier League, there are more teams who should, more or less, be on their same level. Fenech said that retaining their status will still be no easy task and the club will be doing its best to achieve its objective. However he insisted that although other teams have been strengthened as well, Lija Athletic still believe they could do it.
Finally the Lija president thanked the sponsors, namely Falzon Group, technical sponsor Eurosport, The Teambar, WP Ltd and Gardenia Home Centre.
Coach Joseph Galea, who was confirmed after leading the team to promotion, said that although retaining Premier League status was the club’s target, this was never an easy objective for a small club. However he was confident that with the new signings, especially the foreigners who already had experience of football in Malta, the club would be well prepared to achieve this, even though for him and many of the members of the squad, this was a new experience.
This summer, Lija Athletic secured the services of four new foreigners: Ousmane Sidibe who had played for Vittoriosa Stars, Pembroke Athleta and Qormi; Djamel Leeflang formerly of Valletta and Qormi; Marcelo Dias de Souza who played for Senglea Athletic last season and Haris Memisevic.
They also signed Jonathan Martinelli from Senglea Athletic, Nigel Spiteri and Luke Attard from Attard and Zack Bowman from San Gwann apart from Dylan Mintoff who is back with the club after spending last season on loan with Mdina Knights.